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De’Aaron Fox on Malik Monk’s uncertain future with Sacramento Kings: ‘This is a business’

One of the biggest questions facing the Sacramento Kings this offseason is the uncertain future of guard Malik Monk if he is granted unrestricted free agency this summer.

Sacramento suffered a season-ending 105-98 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in the play-in tournament Friday at Smoothie King Center. The loss highlighted Monk’s importance to the Kings after their bench was outscored 34-12.

Monk finished second in the NBA in points and assists per game among all bench players this season.

“Obviously, I think he was extremely big for us,” Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “People who have seen us play know that he should be the sixth man of the year. But at the end of the day, this is a business, and I feel like what he’s given us in the two years he’s been here, I feel like he’s shown his value, what he can do for a team.

The Kings are somewhat hamstrung when it comes to keeping Monk. They only have his early bird rights and the most they can pay him is about $78 million over four years. It’s likely he could command more from another team on the open market.

“I’m happy for him, regardless of whether he’s with us or not. He knows that,” Fox said. “But at the end of the day it is a business. You can only play basketball for a limited time.”

Monk was having the most productive season of his career before an MCL sprain knocked him out for the remainder of the season on March 29 when Mavericks star Luka Doncic fell to his knee. He missed the last nine games of the regular season and the two play-in games.

Monk averaged a career-high 15.4 points with 5.1 assists while averaging 26.0 minutes per game.

His injury was expected to keep him out for four to six weeks. Friday’s game marked four weeks since the injury, meaning there was a chance he could have returned to the lineup had the Kings won Friday and advanced to the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Malik is another playmaker on the field with Foxy,” Domantas Sabonis said. “When you have two of those guys on the field at the same time, it makes it very difficult for the defense to guard. So he was definitely missing (Friday), especially for me as a big man.”

Fox and Monk have known each other since they played basketball together since childhood and continued as college teammates at Kentucky. They reunited before last season when Monk signed a two-year, $19.4 million deal in the summer of 2022.

Fox was asked if he would try to get Monk to stay.

“Sure, sure,” Fox said. “(But) money talks. Like I said, you can’t play this game forever. You have such a short window to play basketball. Obviously not everyone will be ‘Bron of CP’ and will play for 19, 20 years. Of course, you should be able to get paid whenever you can. That’s what Vince Carter told me and he played 21, 22 years. So Malik was great for us. Of course I would like to have him back, but I don’t know what the future holds.”